On Tuesday, Sept. 8, President Barack Obama will address children in schools across the country and “encourage them to stay in school and succeed,” according to the Department of Education.
It sounds harmless, even healthy, for our kids to hear from the president in school, and of course we want our kids to be successful students and patriots, so why are some parents so upset about this seemingly innocuous address?
One reason is the lack of “country” in the proposed subject material and provided discussion questions. The resources coming from the Department of Education are much more focused on “helping the president” than serving the country. For instance, on the 7-12th grade pre-speech worksheet, it suggests that “Teachers may post in large print around the classroom notable quotes excerpted from President Obama’s speeches on education.” It seems glaring and egotistical that this administration only highlights President Obama’s speeches. Has no other president said anything worth repeating? (As a side note, originally the idea was for students to write themselves letters on “how they can help the president” but after it came under fire from conservatives, that assignment was removed.)
The worksheet for younger children, grades K-6, is even more Obama-centric. A few of the questions read: “What is the president trying to tell me? What is the president asking me to do? What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about?”
During a time when many Americans are unhappy with the president’s values and policies, this seems like an attempt to indoctrinate children into a different America than their parents are comfortable with.
Florida’s Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer said in a press release: “While I support educating our children to respect both the office of the American President and the value of community service, I do not support using our children as tools to spread liberal propaganda. The address scheduled for September 8, 2009, does not allow for healthy debate on the President’s agenda, but rather obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with our President’s initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates.”
Michelle Malkin posted a special Hall Pass on her Web site for parents who may be uncomfortable with the president’s speech. Some citizens, and quite a few Christians, are going even further, spurred by groups such as the Exodus Mandate, a Christian organization that offers help to parents who want to put their kids in Christian schools or home school.
John Stuart Mill wrote “On Liberty” in 1869, in which he famously said: “A general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government . . . in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.” Strong words. Anybody else feeling a little weird about our president’s speech?
Unfortunately, in public schools, God is already absent, and a pledge of service to Barack Obama has already been broadcast once. G.K. Chesterson wrote: “Once abolish the God, and the government becomes the God.” Is this what we’re seeing here?